A COTSWOLD huntsman was left fighting for his life following a freak riding accident at the weekend.

But fellow riders have applauded two quick-thinking members of the hunt who stayed calm in the crisis and used their army training to adminster emergency first aid.

Chris Bennett, from Wiltshire, is recovering in intensive care at Great Western Hospital in Swindon.

His horse slipped in the mud while out hunting with the Vale of the White Horse Hunt in Poulton, near Cirencester.

He was knocked unconscious and stopped breathing, although hospital staff say he is now in a stable condition.

However, the family man owes his life to two ex-army huntsmen trained in first aid who witnessed the accident and rushed to his aid.

One of them, Nicholas Lykke Dahn, who lives in Aldsworth, said: "It was just a freak accident - the horse literally slipped over on the mud.

"You look for three things, airways, breathing and circulation, and in this case he was unconscious and had stopped breathing so we did CPR on him.

"But my contribution was minimal really - the accident was just so unfortunate."

Oaksey resident Alexander Maculan added: "I am ex-army and there was another ex-army man who helped me.

"We checked whether he was conscious and he wasn't, then I checked for pulse and heart rate before we started CPR.

"Most people have some sort of first aid training but I think they don't take it seriously enough when they do the course.

"If you haven't got the training let somebody else who knows what they are doing take charge."

Mr Bennett was taken to Great Western Hospital by county air ambulance after the medical crew continued to treat him on the ground for another 30 minutes.

Members of the VWH, which met at Poulton Fields on Saturday, have praised the two ex-army huntsmen and wished Mr Bennett a speedy recovery.

Hunt member Charles Mann said: "It is fantastic when people have first aid knowledge - it's vital when you are taking part in dangerous sports as the first five minutes after an accident are so vital - Alexander and Nick are absolutely fantastic."